When summer arrives, some kids see it as a chance to spend time reading new books as well as old favorites. Others would be happy if they didn’t see a book during their whole vacation. But summer reading is key to keeping skills fresh. During this time off from school, let them enjoy books of all kinds—it’s the reading that matters. Our summer reading list for 2023 has options for every kid, every reading level, and every interest. Bookmark this list for easy access!
Looking for even more suggestions? Check out our huge collection of book lists here.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Picture Books: Summer Reading List 2023
Looking to inspire little ones and new readers? This 2023 summer reading list for preschoolers and early elementary has selections that feature gorgeous illustrations and captivating stories. These books are perfect for story time, bedtime, or anytime!
We Are All Scientists/Todos somos científicos by Dr. Ellen Ochoa
Dr. Ochoa was the first Latina woman to go to space, and now she’s started a series of books to inspire others to do the same! We especially love that this selection has text in both English and Spanish.
Buy it: We Are All Scientists/Todos somos científicos at Amazon
Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy and Janelle Washington
This Caldecott Honor book celebrates the life of Emmett Till, whose murder sparked the Civil Rights Movement. But the story truly belongs to his mother, Mamie, who ensured her son’s sacrifice was for the greater good. Add this one to your second grade summer reading list and share this incredibly inspiring story with a new generation.
Buy it: Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement at Amazon
Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
This little owl has just one wish—to become a knight! It’s not going to be easy, but in the end, he’s determined to prove his bravery.
Buy it: Knight Owl at Amazon
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
A little Asian girl notices her eyes look different than the other kids she knows, but they look just like those of her beloved mother, grandmother, and sister. This sweet tale about learning to know and love yourself for who you are is a great addition to a kindergarten summer reading list in 2023.
Buy it: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners at Amazon
Bright Star by Yuyi Morales
Join a young fawn on a journey through the Sonoran Desert and the borderlands there. The images are stunning, the story inspiring. (A Spanish edition is also available.)
Buy it: Bright Star at Amazon
Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman inspired the nation with her poem at the 2020 presidential inauguration ceremony. Her children’s book is just as stirring, with gorgeous illustrations kids will love.
Buy it: Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem at Amazon
My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
A young girl learns that her hair’s natural beauty is meant to be treasured as much as the gorgeous plants blooming throughout her neighbor’s yard.
Buy it: My Hair Is a Garden at Amazon
Floaty by John Himmelman
When someone leaves a mysterious basket on grouchy Mr. Raisin’s doorstep, the last thing he expects to be inside is a dog—especially one that floats! What will Mr. Raisin do when Floaty floats away? This is the perfect lighthearted read-aloud for your first grade summer reading list.
Buy it: Floaty at Amazon
What If … by Samantha Berger and Mike Curato
Gorgeous illustrations showcase the richness a vivid imagination can add to a child’s life. No matter what they take away from her, they can’t take away her ability to create.
Buy it: What If … at Amazon
Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine
One of the best parts of summer is staying up late! The nighttime adventure these children have will inspire students to click on their own flashlights—and their imaginations—and head out into the dark.
Buy it: Flashlight Night at Amazon
Take a Hike, Miles and Spike! by Travis Foster and Ethan Long
Two oblivious dogs pack for an outdoor adventure but have to revise their plans when the other animals call them out for being selfish. Catchy rhymes and Ethan Long’s signature, super-fun illustrations make this silly story a guaranteed hit for your kindergarten summer reading list.
Buy it: Take a Hike, Miles and Spike! at Amazon
I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt
Princess Truly can do anything she sets her mind to, from taming lions to dancing on the stars! Be sure to check out the other Princess Truly books too.
Buy it: I Am Truly at Amazon
Big Brown Bear’s Cave by Yuval Zommer
Working through every one of Yuval Zommer’s creative titles would be a great way for students to spend vacation! This one is especially perfect, though, for kids whose parents ask them to help clean out the garage (or attic or basement) during summer break. Based on his observations of humans’ “caves,” Big Brown Bear thinks he needs a lot more stuff to make his own home feel comfy—or does he?
Buy it: Big Brown Bear’s Cave at Amazon
Natsumi! by Susan Lendroth and Priscilla Burris
No one in Natsumi’s family appreciates her extra-energetic approach to preparing for the Japanese arts festival. Her grandfather knows just how to channel all that enthusiasm—through drumming! Inspire students to march to their own drum this summer.
Buy it: Natsumi! at Amazon
Big Bunny by Rowboat Watkins
Big Bunny loves to eat carrots, along with … lots of other stuff. The zany plot twists will give kids the giggles. The unexpected ending is pure fun.
Buy it: Big Bunny at Amazon
The Magician’s Secret by Zachary Hyman and Joe Bluhm
Sleepovers at Grandpa’s are a highlight of many kids’ summers. When your grandfather is a retired magician with a magic story chest in his attic, though? Well, that’s a guaranteed adventure.
Buy it: The Magician’s Secret at Amazon
Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock by Dallas Hunt and Amanda Strong
Awâsis is a young Cree girl who’s about to embark on an adventure! Together with her woodland friends, she gathers the ingredients she needs to bake bannock, a traditional bread. This picture book includes Cree terminology and a delicious recipe to try too!
Buy it: Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock at Amazon
Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer and K-Fai Steele
Noodlephant loves pasta—hence her nickname. When the kangaroos start making one unfair law after another, Noodlephant stands up for everyone’s right to enjoy pasta. Check out the seque, too: Okapi Tale.
Buy it: Noodlephant at Amazon
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won
There’s a pervasive dark cloud of grumpiness among the animal friends, until they start gifting hats to one another. Also check out follow-ups Hooray for Books! and Hooray for Today!
Buy it: Hooray for Hat! at Amazon
Boxitects by Kim Smith
Boxitect. Blanketeer. Spaghetti-tect. Kids will want to be all of them! After you read, use the cardboard box creation inspiration to build some castles of your own.
Buy it: Boxitects at Amazon
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Where by Jill Esbaum
This medley of explanations will answer curious kids’ questions about the tallest mountains, the biggest rivers, and even fun facts like where ice cream was invented. Use it to take a vacation when you can’t leave home!
Buy it: National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Where at Amazon
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
Unique and detailed illustrations will sweep students back in time in this narrative nonfiction account of a lighthouse keeper’s year. What would it be like to live “on the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world”?
Buy it: Hello Lighthouse at Amazon
Sisters & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant
This story of the sisters that redefined expectations of what kids from a tough Los Angeles neighborhood can achieve is a summer inspiration that’s a perfect addition to your kindergarten summer reading list in 2023. Floyd Cooper’s illustrations are a delight.
Buy it: Sisters & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams at Amazon
What if You Had an Animal Tail? by Sandra Markle and Howard McWilliam
A perfect pairing for a summer outing to the zoo, this fun series will have kids laughing as they learn about animal adaptations and the human body. This one focuses on tails; read the others to learn about animal ears, hair, and more.
Buy it: What if You Had an Animal Tail? at Amazon
A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui
Journey to another land with this Caldecott Honor book. Follow along as a father teaches his son about their native country, Vietnam.
Buy it: A Different Pond at Amazon
Finding the Music/En pos de la música by Jennifer Torres
When Reyna accidentally breaks her abuelito‘s special instrument, a vihuela, she’s heartbroken—and determined to get it fixed. This touching title celebrates family bonds, mariachi music, and the power of community.
Buy it: Finding the Music/En pos de la música at Amazon
Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes
In this true story, an Iraqi family brings their beloved family cat when they leave their home as refugees, only to have it get lost during the boat crossing to Greece. A worldwide reunification effort leads to a happy ending.
Buy it: Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey at Amazon
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford
This artful trip through musical history will fascinate kids (and adults too). Learn about how artists from so many domains—storytelling, poetry, funk, street art, break dancing, deejaying, and more—helped rap and hip-hop become what they are today.
Buy it: The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop at Amazon
Easy Read/Early Chapter Books: Summer Reading List 2023
Chapter books give readers who are still mastering the skill even more practice. Our 2023 easy reader summer reading list choices are excellent for read-alouds too, whether it’s parents reading to kids or kids reading to parents (or kids reading to each other!).
Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends by Kaz Windness
These best friends have always loved being so similar. But it turns out they’re actually pretty different—and that’s OK. We love this one for a lighthearted addition to a second grade summer reading list.
Buy it: Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends at Amazon
Evelyn Del Ray Is Moving Away by Meg Medina
When Daniela’s best friend Evelyn moves out of her apartment across the street, the two girls spend one last day playing together among the moving boxes. Even though they won’t be neighbors anymore, they know they’ll always be friends.
Buy it: Evelyn Del Ray Is Moving Away at Amazon
Search for a Giant Squid (Pick Your Path) by Amy Seto Forrester and Andy Chou Musser
This unique new STEM series for early readers lets kids choose their own adventure in the real world. Reluctant readers who enjoy nature will return to this one again and again.
Buy it: Search for a Giant Squid (Pick Your Path) at Amazon
Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants by Andrea Beaty
Readers who loved Ada Twist’s picture book will love following her on her chapter book adventures! Pals Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck join her as she works to solve a mystery in her own backyard. This is a great choice for a third grade summer reading list.
Buy it: Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants at Amazon
She Persisted: Maria Tallchief by Christine Day
Looking for inspiring stories of strong women? The She Persisted series is full of them. In this one, young readers learn about America’s first major prima ballerina, who was also a member of the Osage Nation.
Buy it: She Persisted: Maria Tallchief at Amazon
Baby Monkey, Private Eye, by Brian Selznick and David Serlin
Emergent readers will love the adorable young primate detective in this collection of five simple “mysteries.” Clever illustrations elevate the simple text.
Buy it: Baby Monkey, Private Eye at Amazon
Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song
Norma and Belly are hungry squirrels who desperately want a nut—a donut! They’re foiled at every turn, though, and their silly adventure will keep kids giggling throughout this early-reader graphic novel.
Buy it: Donut Feed the Squirrels at Amazon
Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano
When Polly discovers that a magic book that appeared on her doorstep can make everything she writes actually happen, she wastes no time trying it out—with entertaining results. If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out the sequel, Polly Diamond and the Super Stunning Spectacular School Fair.
Buy it: Polly Diamond and the Magic Book at Amazon
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley
Jo Jo Makoons lives on an Ojibwe reservation with her family, where her #1 best friend is her cat, Mimi. But her #1 human friend, Fern, doesn’t seem to want to be friends anymore. What will Jo Jo Makoons do?
Buy it: Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend at Amazon
The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
Teddy, a dog who has recently lost his elderly owner, narrates this tender tale. Now alone in his owner’s cabin, he rescues two children caught in a winter storm and experiences the healing power of companionship. A perfect story for any young dog lover!
Buy it: The Poet’s Dog at Amazon
Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds by Elise Gravel
Arlo the crow is smart, and he knows it. Fortunately, his little friend Pips isn’t afraid to put him in his place! This funny graphic novel includes plenty of true facts about crows mixed in with the story and is a fantastic book to put on your first or second grade summer reading list in 2023.
Buy it: Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds at Amazon
Scaredy Bat and the Missing Jellyfish by Marina J. Bowman
Mystery-loving kids will fall in love with Scaredy Bat! This detective series is filled with colorful graphics to help younger readers follow along as a child vampire attempts to solve mysteries with her pals. Try this one for a fourth grade summer reading list!
Buy: Scaredy Bat and the Missing Jellyfish at Amazon
Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli
Kids will get a kick out of reading about the adventures of Baloney and his friends Peanut, Bizz, and Krabbit! Plus, they can follow the tutorial at the end of the book to learn how to draw comics of their own.
Buy it: Baloney and Friends at Amazon
Pick Your Own Quest: Dragon vs. Unicorn by Connor Hoover
The Pick Your Own Quest series is what summer reading dreams are made of! Reminiscent of the beloved Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 1980s, these stories are different each time you read them. Find them all here.
Buy it: Pick Your Own Quest: Dragon vs. Unicorn at Amazon
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi
Yasmin is a sassy second grader from a Pakistani-American family. She tackles real-life challenges with spirit and imagination in a book filled with winning illustrations that bring the stories to life.
Buy it: Meet Yasmin! at Amazon
Power Forward by Hena Khan
Summer is the perfect time to get hooked on a new sports fiction series. This introduction to the Chasing the Dream series introduces Zayd Saleem, a likable fourth grader who’s also a basketball fanatic.
Buy it: Power Forward at Amazon
Pizza and Taco: Who’s the Best? by Stephen Shaskan
What’s better, pizza or tacos? That’s the big question in this graphic novel for emergent readers—except Pizza and Taco have come to life!
Buy it: Pizza and Taco at Amazon
West Meadows Detectives: The Case of Maker Mischief by Liam O’Donnell
This title is the second in a series starring Myron, a young sleuth who speaks frankly and positively about his autism. We love how his quirks play off those of his sidekicks as they work together to find a classmate’s stolen robot. The series is fantastic for a third grade summer reading list.
Buy it: West Meadows Detectives: The Case of Maker Mischief at Amazon
Agent Moose by Mo O’Hara
Folks keep going missing on the South Shore in this graphic novel. No worries though—Agent Moose and his sidekick Owlfred are on the case!
Buy it: Agent Moose at Amazon
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 (I Survived Series) by Lauren Tarshis
The heart-pounding adventure of these stories based on real-life events is sure to capture every kid’s imagination. Check out the whole series here.
Buy it: I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 at Amazon
Bunbun & Bonbon: Fancy Friends by Jess Keating
Bunbun is as cute as can be, but awfully lonely. Fortunately, fancy candy Bonbon is ready to step in! Their sweet adventures fill the pages of this easy-reader graphic novel.
Buy it: Bunbun & Bonbon at Amazon
InvestiGators by John Patrick Green
Welcome to the underground (literally!) world of Special Undercover Investigation Teams (S.U.I.T.). Gator agents Mango and Brash travel the sewers by toilet as they solve cases in this hilarious graphic novel for young readers.
Buy it: InvestiGators at Amazon
Pea, Bee, & Jay: Stuck Together by Brian “Smitty” Smith
Pea loves to roll and can’t resist a dare to roll right off the farm where he lives. But an unexpected storm sends him farther than he expected. Will his new friends Bee and Jay be able to help him find his way back home?
Buy it: Pea, Bee, & Jay: Stuck Together at Amazon
Middle School Summer Reading List 2023
Middle grade readers are ready for longer books with more advanced vocabulary. We’ve picked a variety of genres for our middle school summer reading list for 2023, from historical fiction to mystery, fantasy adventures to realistic modern tales.
The Rhythm of Time by Questlove and S.A. Cosby
This smart new time-travel tale carries kids back to Philadelphia in the 1990s. It’s not all that far back into the past, but things are just different enough to give Rahim and Kasia some serious adventures. This book is a great pick for a 2023 summer reading list for fifth or sixth grade.
Learn more: The Rhythm of Time at Amazon
Big Tree by Brian Selznick
Part fantasy, part nature story, and entirely mesmerizing, this is one of those books that will enchant nature-lovers. Two sycamore tree seeds come alive as they tell their tale of adventure among dinosaurs, volcanoes, and other dangers. This book is unlike anything else kids have read, and it deserves a spot on the best middle school summer reading list picks of 2023.
Buy it: Big Tree at Amazon
Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd
Be inspired by the story of Olive, who’s determined not to let brittle bone disease stand in the way of her dreams. As she searches for a fabled wish-granting hummingbird, she makes friends and learns more about herself too.
Buy it: Hummingbird at Amazon
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
This is one of the most popular books of the last few years, so put it on your middle school summer reading list for 2023 if you haven’t read it yet. Mysterious Beatryce might be the girl foretold in a prophecy, and it puts her life in danger. The magical medieval setting captures the imagination, as do the intriguing cast of characters.
Buy it: The Beatryce Prophecy at Amazon
The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang
At Meilan’s new school, the principal decides she should go by Melanie to make it easier for the other (White) students to pronounce. This sets Meilan off on a journey to find out more about her own name—and herself.
Buy it: The Many Meanings of Meilan at Amazon
A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon by Karen Romano Young
Award-winning author Karen Romano Young spins a clever caper around a group of tweens trying to crack a case that may help them prevent their beloved local library from closing.
Buy it: A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon at Amazon
Home Sweet Motel (Welcome to Wonderland #1) by Chris Grabenstein
In this offering from a favorite middle grade author, P.T. Wilkie and his friend Gloria try to save his family’s Wonderland motel—a kid’s paradise—from financial ruin. Readers will be cheering them on as they laugh at P.T.’s tendency to “embellish” stories, the pair’s crazy moneymaking strategies, and their wild attempts to solve an unexpected mystery that crops up. Read more of their adventures in the rest of the Welcome to Wonderland series.
Buy it: A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon at Amazon
Ellie, Engineer, by Jackson Pearce
Friends, creativity, and girl-powered STEM: A story about a neighborhood building project is a perfect summer read, especially when led by Ellie, armed with her trusty tool belt. There are two more Ellie books to enjoy too!
Buy it: Ellie, Engineer at Amazon
Trapped in a Video Game by Dustin Brady
An unknown villain imprisons Jessie in his least favorite activity—a video game. And if he can’t figure out how to beat this mysterious culprit, he’ll be stuck in the virtual world. Love Jessie? There’s a whole series about him!
Buy it: Trapped in a Video Game at Amazon
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Brothers Bobby Gene and Caleb were minding their own business in their small Indiana town when Styx Malone rolled in. Styx is older and wiser and teaches the boys how to pull off an escalator trade, getting better and better stuff until they get something incredible. This book is full of hilarious antics and sweet brotherly relationships.
Buy it: The Season of Styx Malone at Amazon
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman
Maria Merian was a brave and passionate scientific mind, well ahead of her time. Her story will inspire kids to head outside to look for butterflies and caterpillars in their own garden or nearby park.
Buy it: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science at Amazon
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
Humphrey is Room 26’s class pet: a lovable hamster! Follow his adventures as he gets to know his human companions. There’s a whole According to Humphrey series featuring this fluffy cutie too.
Buy it: The World According to Humphrey at Amazon
Pony on the Twelfth Floor by Polly Faber
Kizzy’s desire to own a horse gets the best of her in this humorous tale about trying to own—and hide—a pony in an apartment building.
Buy it: Pony on the Twelfth Floor at Amazon
Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. edited by Betsy Bird
What do you get when 25 of today’s funniest women children’s book writers combine their stories together in one book? A hilarious collection that will make you laugh until you cry! Bonus: A portion of the proceeds from this book goes to support WriteGirl, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower girls by promoting creativity and self-expression.
Buy it: Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. at Amazon
Blended by Sharon M. Draper
A biracial tween must split time equally living with each of her divorced parents (who are both now dating other people and have vastly different income levels). Many kids will see their own lives reflected in her lifestyle-switching tale. We love this one for a sixth grade summer reading list.
Buy it: Blended at Amazon
Spy School Revolution by Stuart Gibbs
The latest book in this teacher-recommended series features superspy-in-training Ben Dash trying to prove his friend Erica is not a double agent. To do so, he’ll have to track down an insurgent group that dates back to colonial times. See the whole Spy School series here.
Buy it: Spy School Revolution at Amazon
The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet
Kids who love historical fiction will enjoy this World War II story of life on the home front. Eleven-year-old Gusta moves from New York City to live with her grandmother in Maine, where there’s plenty of small-town drama. It’s a terrific option for a seventh grade summer reading list.
Buy it: The Orphan Band of Springdale at Amazon
Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff
We love this author’s entertaining way of turning classic fairy tales on their heads for middle grade readers. A young dwarf is torn between the appeal of new friendship and a nagging suspicion that Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) has dark intentions.
Buy it: Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Amazon
Absolutely Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) by Heather Vogel Frederick
Truly Lovejoy’s family moved from Texas to a tiny town in New Hampshire to take over their family’s century-old bookstore. Left largely to her own devices, Truly finds herself chasing down clues found in old books. There are sequels, too: Yours Truly and Really Truly.
Buy it: Absolutely Truly (A Pumpkin Falls Mystery) at Amazon
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Working with LEGO bricks provides Lolly with a creative and healing form of expression after his older brother is a victim of gang violence. This is a story about learning to throw away the directions and make your own way in the world. Put this one on your eighth grade summer reading list.
Buy it: The Stars Beneath Our Feet at Amazon
The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society) by Adam Gidwitz
A society for caring for mythical creatures is a surefire hook, but this series by a talented middle-grade author backs up its hype with compelling characters and clever plot twists. Love it? Here’s the rest of the series, currently up to six books.
Buy it: The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society) at Amazon
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
The Book Scavenger Series mystery tales all begin with clues found on Book Scavenger, a fictional geocaching-style game where participants hide books in public places and reveal the locations through encoded clues. Emily and James embark on three rollicking, heart-thumping adventures in and around San Francisco. Don’t be surprised if kids want to set up their own scavenger adventures after they read!
Buy it: Book Scavenger at Amazon
Aline and the Blue Bottle by Carolina Ugaz-Morán
A Halloween birthday party turns into the beginning of a quest for a young girl who finds out she has magical powers and has to locate a hidden artifact.
Buy it: Aline and the Blue Bottle at Amazon
The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
Masie Cannon was a ballet dancer in training until a serious leg injury knocked her off her feet. Now she’s preparing for a winter road trip to the Native American community where her mother grew up, but she’s anything but excited. Can her family help heal her heart?
Buy it: The Sea in Winter at Amazon
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
Charlotte and Ben may only know each other through an online Scrabble game, but they’re both busy finding their way through middle school. Though they live far apart, their friendship grows in unexpected ways as they spend one eventful week supporting each other through family troubles and school challenges.
Buy it: You Go First at Amazon
Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon
Beat the summer heat by sending chills down your spine! In this thriller, a group of tweens is drawn into waking versions of their own nightmares in a spooky game of hide-and-seek. It’s the perfect middle school summer reading list pick for reluctant readers.
Buy it: Hide and Seeker at Amazon
The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
Imagine your mom got together with a group of other moms and decided to form a book club, and you and your middle school acquaintances have no choice but to join. A group reading of Little Women makes unlikely friends out of the four girls, leading to a whole Mother-Daughter Book Club series.
Buy it: The Mother-Daughter Book Club at Amazon
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
In the summer of 1968, the Gaither sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a few months with their mother. Much to their surprise, their mother isn’t exactly excited to see them and instead wants them to spend the summer at a Black Panther camp.
Buy it: One Crazy Summer at Amazon
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
A puzzling letter sends Candice on a summer quest to find treasure and clear her grandmother’s name. Reviewers compare this historical mystery to Ellen Raskin’s classic The Westing Game.
Buy it: The Parker Inheritance at Amazon
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit
Vivy Cohen has wanted to be a baseball pitcher ever since she met pro ballplayer VJ Capello. But things aren’t so simple for Vivy: She is autistic, and her mom says she can’t play baseball because she’s a girl. That doesn’t stop Vivy from being invited to join a Little League team. And when Vivy writes a letter to VJ, she’s surprised to get a reply.
Buy it: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! at Amazon
Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
Fidelia Quail’s life assisting in her parents’ marine biology research is already unusual. But when they drown in a storm and she’s kidnapped by pirates, this story catapults into page-turning summer adventure territory.
Buy it: Race to the Bottom of the Sea at Amazon
The Sky at Our Feet by Nadia Hashimi
Summer is for compelling page-turners and characters that move you. Everything changes for Jason when he finds out that his Afghan mother, whom he thought was deported, is living illegally in the United States.
Buy it: The Sky at Our Feet at Amazon
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
Travel back in time to experience life backstage at the Globe Theatre. An orphan named Widge is tasked with stealing the script for Hamlet, but as he gets to know the actors and the great playwright himself, he must decide where his loyalty lies. If you enjoy it, there’s a follow-up book, Shakespeare’s Scribe.
Buy it: The Shakespeare Stealer at Amazon
Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The first book of the new Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries is a clever caper about a budding tween criminologist attempting to solve a local murder.
Buy it: Premeditated Myrtle at Amazon
Hatchet (Brian’s Saga) by Gary Paulsen
This classic survival novel now has four sequels, making up Brian’s Saga. Hatchet is the one that started it all: Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father when the plane crashes, killing the pilot. Brian is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present.
Buy it: Hatchet (Brian’s Saga) at Amazon
Young Adult: Summer Reading List 2023
By this age, kids probably have some required summer reading to do. But when they just want to read for fun, our high school summer reading list 2023 suggestions give them a wide array of choices. They delve into topics relevant to teen life: bullying, first love, friendships, and more. And some of them are just pure escapist fun!
Throwback by Maurene Goo
Sam and her mom, Priscilla (a first-generation Korean American), just can’t seem to get along. But when Sam finds herself thrown back in time to the 1990s, attending high school alongside her much younger mother, she learns a few things that just might change their relationship forever.
Buy it: Throwback at Amazon
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh
In war-torn Syria, Salama is determined to help her family escape before her sister-in-law gives birth. The challenge is so great that her fear manifests itself in an imaginary companion who’s constantly telling her she needs to get out. As she desperately tries to leave Syria behind, fate steps in and changes her views of everything happening around her. Add this book to your summer reading list for high schoolers.
Buy it: As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow at Amazon
The Do-Over by Lynn Painter
Light romances are perfect for high school summer reading lists. This one is a cross between the movie Groundhog Day and a teen romance. After a disastrous Valentine’s Day with a cheating boyfriend, Emilie wakes up living the same day over and over again. Maybe the enigmatic Nick can help her find her way back to reality.
Buy it: The Do-Over at Amazon
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner
Best friends Cash and Delaney escape their difficult lives in a small town and head to an elite prep school in New England, where they’ve both earned scholarships. But do they really want to leave their pasts behind entirely? Their relationship evolves as they try to discover the answer.
Buy it: In the Wild Light at Amazon
Gilded by Marissa Meyer
Fairy tales are for little kids, right? Not this dark retelling of Rumpelstiltskin! Magic and mystery meet romance in this gripping tale.
Buy it: Gilded at Amazon
The Desolations of Devil’s Acre by Ransom Riggs
If you’ve been following the saga of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, you won’t want to miss the final novel in the series. If you missed the first five, summer is the perfect time to catch up!
Buy it: The Desolations of Devil’s Acre at Amazon
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
This fantasy novel set in an orphanage for unique, magical children is anything but childish. The characters, including a young gnome, a green blob, and Linus the child Antichrist, are surprisingly real, and their quest for acceptance in a nearby town is a charming allegory for tolerance in our own world. It deserves a place on every high school summer reading list.
Buy it: The House in the Cerulean Sea at Amazon
All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani
Two teens fall in and out of love in this romance-centered YA book that’s just as much a love letter to basketball as to first love itself.
Buy it: All the Things We Never Knew at Amazon
Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
A teen fiddler uses her secret ability to summon ghosts from their graves in order to help her brother. With an LGBTQ+ romance as a subplot, this high school summer reading list pick is fantastic for reluctant readers intrigued by the supernatural.
Buy it: Ghost Wood Song at Amazon
All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
When four teens meet their favorite novelist, they’re thrilled at their new friendship. But then their deepest secrets appear in her next book, and the consequences are dire. This contemporary YA mystery is also available in Spanish—ideal for bilingual teens looking for a suspense-filled narrative in their native language.
Buy it: All of This Is True at Amazon
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Jasmine and Chelsea are ready to make changes for women at their high school. They use their literary talents to form a Women’s Rights Club, which soon goes viral. Online trolls lead to trouble, but these best friends are determined to triumph.
Buy it: Watch Us Rise at Amazon
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
When Monday Charles goes missing, her best friend Claudia is the only one who seems to even notice she’s missing. When no one can give her the answers she needs, Claudia goes on a quest to find them herself, no matter how difficult they may be to accept.
Buy it: Monday’s Not Coming at Amazon
The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu
When her best friend, Elise, shoots Remy’s boyfriend Jack, Remy is left to question the truth about what happened. Obsession is the driving force behind this fast-paced plot surrounding two besties’ warped connection.
Buy it: The Best Lies at Amazon
Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson
This 2018 National Book Award Fiction finalist is a poignant tale about the bond two teenagers form in foster care while also trying to retain a connection to their shared Native American culture.
Buy it: Where the Dead Sit Talking at Amazon
The Black Veins by Ashia Monet
A teen barista must seek out six fellow magicians to help save her family in the first book of this fantasy series.
Buy it: The Black Veins at Amazon
If You’re Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser
Social media is the only lead two high schoolers have when they begin to investigate the disappearance of a friend who seems to have vanished. This light thriller is the perfect summer high school reading list choice.
Buy it: If You’re Out There at Amazon
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but for different reasons, they both want to make a new friend on their End Day. Luckily, there’s an app for that. It’s called The Last Friend. Through it, Rufus and Mateo meet up to try to live a lifetime in a single day.
Buy it: They Both Die at the End at Amazon
When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
What happens when lifelong best friends are now ex-besties? Cleo and Layla’s friendship may be over, but the story doesn’t end there.
Buy it: When You Were Everything at Amazon
White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
Ex-boyfriend drama ends up being the least of Rufus’ worries after he finds his sister at a crime scene—and has only one night to prove her innocence.
Buy it: White Rabbit at Amazon
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Janelle “Ellie” Baker is a teen rebel stuck in an alien-controlled quadrant of New York City in this sci-fi adventure about living, and falling in love, on an Earth that humans no longer control.
Buy it: The Sound of Stars at Amazon
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his 18th birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
Buy it: Windfall at Amazon
If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley
Tens of thousands of crows have invaded Auburn, Pennsylvania. It’s an issue for everyone in town except 17-year-old Leighton Barnes. For Leighton, it’s no stranger than her house, which inexplicably repairs itself every time her father loses his temper and breaks things. Leighton’s senior year is filled with shades of the past and anticipation of the future, all while dealing with the confusing events of the present.
Buy it: If These Wings Could Fly at Amazon
Because I Was a Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages by Melissa de la Cruz
This multicultural collection outlines the real-life struggles authors, chefs, and STEM professionals faced because of their female identity. Girls and boys alike can benefit from these true stories.
Buy it: Because I Was a Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages at Amazon
All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson
The author explores the intersectionality of being male, a person of color, and queer in contemporary society. It’s one of our favorite #OneVoices nonfiction books.
Buy it: All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto at Amazon
Kent State by Deborah Wiles
High school history fans will be riveted by this compelling account of the Kent State shootings of 1970, when American troops killed four college students who were protesting the Vietnam War. Multiple viewpoints recount the events of that terrifying weekend, with consequences that still resonate today.
Buy it: Kent State at Amazon
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
You’ve heard of Vincent van Gogh, but do you know about Theo? Heiligman chronicles the amazing and eccentric lives of the Van Gogh brothers, their relationship with each other, and their work.
Buy it: Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers at Amazon
Graphic Novels: Summer Reading List 2023
Graphic novels are a real boon for reluctant readers and visual learners. Today’s graphic lit has taken on a life of its own. These books draw kids in with beautiful art, then engage them with compelling narratives. That’s why graphic novels are a big part of our summer reading list for 2023, for kids of every age.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! (Narwhal and Jelly #1) by Ben Clanton
You can’t help but smile at Narwhal’s enthusiasm in this graphic novel series opener about new friendship—he’s just so darn cheerful all the time. Plenty of quirky details will make kids chuckle, like Narwhal’s invitations to a mishmash of sea creatures to join his “pod of awesomeness” (and the cute horns he awards to each new member), or his and Jelly’s unlikely shared love of waffles. Dive into the whole series! (Grades K–3)
Buy it: Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! (Narwhal and Jelly #1) at Amazon
Monsters Beware! (The Chronicles of Claudette) by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
This is the third installment of this engaging graphic novel series for the upper elementary audience. Claudette is desperate to compete in—and win—the annual Warrior Games. She’ll have to contend with monsters who reportedly eat the other competitors, though! (Grades 2–5)
Buy it: Monsters Beware! (The Chronicles of Claudette) at Amazon
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005: The Graphic Novel by Lauren Tarshis and Alvin Epps
The beloved I Survived series has a new addition: graphic novels! These are the perfect elementary summer reading list 2023 choice for reluctant readers and lovers of adventure. See the whole series here. (Grades 2–6)
Buy it: I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005: A Graphic Novel at Amazon
Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu
Kids who love to watch cooking competitions will want to add this to their summer reading list for 2023. Cici needs to raise money to bring her grandmother from Taiwan to visit her in Seattle. Winning a cooking contest might just be the answer! (Grades 2–6)
Buy it: Measuring Up at Amazon
Blancaflor: The Hero With Secret Powers by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez
This retelling of a classic Latin American folktale has been popping up on “best of” lists everywhere, so of course we had to add it to our summer reading list for 2023. Celebrate the resourcefulness of women with this magical story that will really resonate with modern kids. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Blancaflor: The Hero With Secret Powers at Amazon
Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce
Fast-paced and witty, this graphic novel stars wannabe knight Max and her band of buddies. Run-ins with a sorceress, wizards, dragons, and plenty more exaggerated action keep readers interested, and the plentiful quips keep them laughing too. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Max and the Midknights at Amazon
Act (A Click Graphic Novel) by Kayla Miller
Olive can’t wait for the sixth grade field trip, but it turns out an unjust school policy will keep some kids from attending. So Olive decides to run for student council and be the change she wants to see in the world! See other graphic novels in the Click series here. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Act (A Click Graphic Novel) at Amazon
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
This graphic novel tells the story of two brothers from Somalia growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya. Based on the experiences of Somali refugee Omar Mohamed, this book will stay with readers long after they close it. (Grades 4–6)
Buy it: When Stars Are Scattered at Amazon
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
This relatable story is all about what it’s like when friendships grow and change when you’re not quite ready for it. It addresses issues like bullying and self-confidence and the complexities of navigating relationships. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Real Friends at Amazon
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
Make-believe definitely isn’t just for little kids. This engaging graphic novel will inspire middle grade readers to spend summer break building and creating with friends. There’s a sequel too: Roar of the Beast. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: The Cardboard Kingdom at Amazon
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Sanity and Tallulah live on a space station, which is enough to excite the imagination all on its own. But these irrepressible mad scientist tweens have plenty of mischief up their sleeves. Read the first book, then follow up with the others in the Sanity & Tallulah series. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Sanity & Tallulah at Amazon
Class Act by Jerry Craft
This is the illustrated sequel to Craft’s New Kid, which won the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. They both explore what it’s like to be one of the few students of color at a prestigious private school. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Class Act at Amazon
Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee
This whimsical story explores the challenges of leaving childhood behind. Follow a girl still yearning for playtime while she slowly finds herself with only a ghost left as a friend. This bittersweet tale will really resound with middle grade readers. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Séance Tea Party at Amazon
Primer by Thomas Krajewski, Jennifer Muro, and Gretel Lusky
Ashley Rayburn has discovered body paints that turn her into a superhero! Now she has to decide whether to keep them (and her powers) or return them to the agency that made them. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Primer at Amazon
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has a timeless appeal for many readers. This graphic novel modernizes the story with a blended family living in a walk-up in NYC. The characters have familiar personalities, even if their stories are a little different. (Grades 3–6)
Buy it: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy at Amazon
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
Lauded as one of the best books of the year, this graphic novel follows middle schooler Bree as she starts a new school and is forced to take Swim 101. An elderly neighbor coaches her along, leading Bree and her team to a victory they could never have imagined. (Grades 4–8)
Buy it: Swim Team at Amazon
Science Comics: Robots & Drones: Past, Present, and Future by Mairghread Scott and Jacob Chabot
The Science Comics series is awesome for motivating middle grade readers while teaching about high-interest topics. This title is excellent screen-free entertainment for tech-loving kids. (Grades 4–8)
Buy it: Science Comics: Robots & Drones: Past, Present, and Future at Amazon
Maker Comics: Grow a Garden! by Alexis Frederick-Frost
The Maker Comics series is a fantastic DIY collection for tweens and teens. Grow a Garden! seems like a great summer project, while other selections in the series include things like learning to draw a comic or fix a car. (Grades 4–8)
Buy it: Maker Comics: Grow a Garden! at Amazon
Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels by Serena Blasco
Following in the wake of the incredible success of the Enola Holmes book series (now a Netflix film series!), these graphic novels retell the mystery tales with lush illustrations that perfectly capture the energy of the originals. See the whole series here. (Grades 4–8)
Buy it: Enola Holmes: The Graphic Novels at Amazon
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Each year, Ben’s town turns out for the Autumn Equinox Festival and sends lighted lanterns floating off down the river. This year, Ben and his friends are determined to follow them wherever the path leads. (Grades 5–8)
Buy it: This Was Our Pact at Amazon
The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp and Manuel Preitano
Barbara Gordon’s entire life changes when a gunshot wound leaves her paralyzed from the waist down. During her time at a rehab center, she encounters a mystery: Patients keep going missing. As Barbara works to find the answers, she learns important truths about herself. (Grades 6–8)
Buy it: The Oracle Code at Amazon
Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Several years after his powerful graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo, author Krosoczka is back with new stories to tell of his young adulthood. His experiences working at summer camp for seriously ill children changed his views on life. Read about the kids and their families, and your views might change too. (Grades 8–12)
Buy it: Sunshine at Amazon
Poe: Stories and Poems (A Graphic Novel Adaptation) by Gareth Hinds
Poe’s spooky works are the perfect basis for graphic storytelling. Horror-story fans will love this new take on classics like The Raven and The Cask of Amontillado. (Grades 8–12)
Buy it: Poe: Stories and Poems at Amazon
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. This sweet graphic novel series has a huge following and has even become a Netflix series. (Grades 8–12)
Buy it: Heartstopper at Amazon
Himawari House by Harmony Becker
Three foreign exchange students meet in Japan and forge a fast friendship as they navigate life in a new world. (Grades 9–12)
Buy it: Himawari House at Amazon
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Frederica Riley’s relationship with popular girl Laura Dean is toxic—and maybe all too familiar to high schoolers. Freddy falls under her spell again and again until she finally learns what’s truly important in relationships, including friendships. (Grades 9–12)
Buy it: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me at Amazon
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
When Gene was growing up, his heroes were in comic books—not on the court or playing field. As a high school teacher, though, he starts to realize how important sports are to many of his students, and the basketball team’s journey to the state championship holds inspiring lessons for kids and adults alike. (Grades 9–12)
Buy it: Dragon Hoops at Amazon
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
The first installment of this graphic novel series recounts the late senator’s first encounters with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the beginning of the Nashville Student Movement as civil action to desegregate the South was steadily gaining traction. (Grades 9–12)
Buy it: March: Book One at Amazon